The UConn women’s basketball team posted the most points in a half so far this season on Wednesday night with a 70 point first half against ECU in their dominant 118-55 win against the Pirates.
The Huskies, ranked No. 5 nationally for the first time since 2007, returned to the XL Center for their first home game since falling to No. 2 Louisville last Thursday.
“With those losses we know we have a lot to work on,” Katie Lou Samuelson said. “We have too much to kind of figure out to get caught up in what people are saying, what people’s expectations [are]. We have to figure out our own stuff.”
The game started with a quick layup from ECU that would be their sole lead as the Huskies fired back with their own layup and never looked back.
Samuelson paved the way for the Huskies, single-handedly defeating the Pirates (11-11, 2-7 AAC) in the first half with 27 points of her own.
Samuelson’s game allowed her to recover from the scoring slump she has suffered since UConn’s Jan. 20 matchup against Temple. While her numbers never dipped below double-digits, she struggled to hit her signature three-pointers.
On Wednesday, Samuelson scored 31 points off of just two threes, demonstrating that she could expand her game beyond hitting treys.
“You have to be a basketball player, not ‘I’m a basketball shooter,’” Auriemma said about Samuelson’s development.
The Huskies were visibly more energized on Wednesday night than in their last two games against Louisville and Cincinnati, thanks in much part to junior Crystal Dangerfield.
Dangerfield showed off her nifty ball-handling skills throughout the game with slick quick passes and no-lookers that forced her teammates to be on constant alert.
“When Crystal starts off the way she start[ed] off, you know you have to sprint the floor because you’re gonna get some passes that you need to be able to get there and she’s looking for people and she’s really trying to get everyone involved,” Samuelson said after the game.
Dangerfield ended the night with the fourth double-double of her career off of 12 points and 12 assists. She did not commit a single turnover.
“These last three games, she’s looked really really good, but she’s kind of had a great year all the way around,” Auriemma said of Dangerfield’s play. “I think she’s starting to understand how valuable it is to get shots for her teammates in addition to whatever shots she can get.”
Napheesa Collier was 10-10 from the field against ECU, a fact she did not know until after the game and one that did not surprise Auriemma.
“She’s at a different space than everybody else,” Auriemma said after the game. “Her whole approach to everything is just way different than everybody else’s. So when she does something like that, nobody on our team bats an eye.”
Besides the score, another bright spot for the Huskies was their ability to hold the Pirates to a season low three steals and a season high 26 turnovers. ECU leads the conference with steals per game with 11.5.
The Huskies are now 10-0 in their all-time series against ECU and remain undefeated in conference play. Wednesday’s matchup marked the first time the squad has scored 100 points or more this season. All five starters scored in double figures.
UConn is 20-2 overall and 9-0 in conference play.
“Something positive came out of every single person that got on that court and it’s something we can really build on now,” Samuelson said about how the team will use this game to help them moving forward.
Next up, the Huskies will host conference foe Temple at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SNY and ESPN3.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.